Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cool Summer Soups

Although soup is often thought of as a cold weather staple, there are plenty of summer soups loaded with taste, texture and eye appeal. Served chilled or at room temperature, they can be a satisfying appetizer, soothing lunch or refreshing dessert.
Some of the most flavorful persuade seasonal produce to take the starring role—such as ripe, juicy tomatoes in gazpacho. The proliferation of heirloom and locally grown summer fruits and vegetables has made just-picked produce more accessible.
Like a bare summer dress, these pared-down, minimalist soups expose excesses and faults. If a soup uses stock, for example, it should be either made in your kitchen or a high-quality prepared product. Another terrific base, especially for fruit soups, is yogurt. Again, choose the best quality.

PEACH SOUP WITH BLUEBERRIES
Yield: 24 (1-cup) portions
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Shelf-life: 4-5 days under refrigeration (without sorbet and mint addition)
Serve this seasonal cooler as a light dessert to end a hot weather meal or enjoy it as a light main course. Either way, this soup takes minutes to make and is sure to tempt heat-weary summer diners.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 6 cups ripe peaches, puréed and refrigerated until cold
  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 3¼4 cup honey
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 pints vanilla yogurt
  • 3 pints fresh blueberries
  • 3 pints peach sorbet (optional)
  • Mint leaves, to garnish

METHOD

  1. Combine peaches, cider, honey, lemon juice and nutmeg in electric blender and purée until smooth. Pour into a bowl, fold in yogurt, cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
  2. Before serving, fold in blueberries. Top each portion with a 2-ounce scoop of peach sorbet. Add mint leaves and serve.

CURRIED MANGO SOUP WITH LOBSTER

Yield: 24 (11¼2-cup) portions, including lobster and salsa additions

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Shelf-life: soup, 4-5 days under refrigeration; salsa, 1 day
This pale coral-toned soup is a fragrant marriage of tropical flavors, including mangoes, coconut, lobster and red curry paste. Perfect for a light supper or lunch on a steamy day. The color may be subtle, but the flavors are exciting with the vibrant confetti of salsa added before serving.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cups ripe mango, puréed
  • 6 cups aseptically packaged mango nectar (not canned mango pulp)
  • 6 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3¼4 cup Penang-style red curry paste
  • 1¼3 cup fresh lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 2 (3-inch) pieces fresh gingerroot, peeled
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 pounds lobster meat, cut into 1¼2-inch medalions
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3¼4 cup dark rum (optional)

For the salsa:

  • 3 cups ripe mango, finely diced
  • 3 cups red bell pepper or combination of bell pepper and hot red chili peppers, finely diced
  • 3¼4 cup basil, finely shredded
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice

METHOD:

  1. Combine puréed mango, mango nectar, coconut milk, curry paste, lemongrass, gingerroot and brown sugar in an electric blender and purée until completely smooth. Pour soup through fine strainer into a bowl, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible.
  2. Heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lobster and sauté until just cooked through, 1-2 minutes, turning frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour on rum, if using, and cook over high heat for 30 seconds. Scrape into the soup.
  3. For the salsa: Combine remaining mango, red pepper, basil and lime juice in a bowl. Serve soup in large, flat bowls. Top each with a generous spoonful of salsa and serve.

ROASTED RED PEPPER & PAPRIKA SOUP

Yield: 24 (1-cup) portions

Preparation time: About 45 minutes

Shelf-life: 1 week under refrigeration
Amelia Hunt of Falls Brook Farm in Old Lyme, Conn., dries and grinds organic Hungarian peppers into the paprika she sells at her farm stand. She serves this bright vermilion-colored soup hot or cold, depending on the season.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds onions, chopped
  • 1 1¼2 ounces garlic, minced
  • 8-12 fresh red chilies, such as jalapeños, seeds and membranes removed, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon hot or sweet paprika
  • 6 pounds red bell peppers, roasted, skinned and seeded, blotted dry
  • 6 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 pounds red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Large bouquet garni (fresh bay leaf, 12 sprigs flat-leaf parsley or chervil, 12 sprigs thyme or marjoram, and 6 ribs celery with leaves tied with string for easy removal, or dried herbs tied in a cheesecloth square)
  • 1 tablespoon salt or to taste
  • 6 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 3¼4 cup half & half or heavy cream (optional)

METHOD:

  1. Heat oil in a large heavy casserole over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and chilies, cover, and sweat until soft, but not brown, 10-15 minutes. Add paprika and cook another minute. Add bell peppers, broth, potatoes and bouquet garni and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
  2. Remove bouquet garni. Transfer mixture to the jar of an electric blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender to purée soup until smooth. Return to pot, season to taste with salt, stir in the fresh thyme and cream, if using, and let soup cool to room temperature. Garnish with a drizzle of sour cream and thyme sprig.
    Joanna Pruess is a contributing editor to Specialty Food Magazine.
(To view actual article click HERE)

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